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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:51

“No. Dirk is picking me up. We’ll probably have a drink before we go. We like it here.”

“I bet.” I glanced at the waitress then rolled my eyes.

Case chuckled. “We enjoy the company, but the liquor is good too.”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever you say.”

Balto took my hand and pulled me out of the Underground. His truck was parked at the curb outside instead of in the indoor garage. Now that Lucian was gone, Balto probably didn’t see the point in being cautious. We got inside and drove back to the compound.

The sun was rising. We’d been up all night, and everything that happened seemed like a long blur. Maybe it was because I was so tired. Or maybe it was because I was so relieved. The man who’d haunted me every single day was gone.

Now I felt lighter than a feather.

We arrived at the compound then took the elevator to the top floor. Home was exactly as I remembered it. The last time I was here, I was in tears because I thought I’d lost Balto for good. I’d spotted his necklace and placed it around my neck, carrying his presence with me so it seemed like he was right next to my heart.

Balto was quiet as usual. He said nothing as he pulled the gun out of the back of his jeans and tossed it on the entryway table. He moved down the hallway, undressed, and then got into the shower.

I was too tired to shower. I stripped off all my clothes and got under the sheets, feeling the heavy diamond right between my breasts. I’d only been wearing it for a few hours, so I wasn’t used to it. I was surprised Balto wore something so heavy on his hand constantly. He was much stronger than me, but the weight still had to be a burden.

I must have drifted off to sleep because his movements woke me up. My eyes opened, and I saw him getting into bed, naked and clean. He pulled the sheets back and lay beside me, smelling like body soap instead of gunpowder and metal.

“I’m too tired to shower…”

He hooked my leg over his hip and wrapped his large arm around my waist. His eyes settled on the necklace that hung from my throat, the skull he’d given to me when he’d thought he was going to die. He stared at it for a while before he looked at me again. Those blue eyes bored into mine with the same intensity as always. He’d been livid with me when I saved his life, but I also knew it meant a lot to him that I did.

Loyalty was the most important thing to him.

This man would risk everything for me, and I would do the same for him.

That was how a relationship should be.

His hand moved to the diamond, and he felt it between his fingertips. “Looks good on you.”

“It’s a billion-euro diamond,” I whispered. “Of course it does.”

He smiled slightly. “It looks good on you for other reasons too.” He pulled me closer to him so we were pressed against each other, our bodies combined into one. His body heated the sheets surrounding us, and even though there was no more danger outside the front door, he kept me safe.

He always kept me safe.

My arm circled his neck, and I rested my face below his chin. I could feel his slow heartbeat against my skin, the steady thrum that lulled me to sleep. His physique was hard like I remembered, and he smelled exactly the same. Now I really treasured this feeling because I’d almost lost him…forever.

When I woke up, Balto wasn’t beside me.

The bed was cold without him.

I expected him to take me even if I was still asleep. It wasn’t like he hadn’t done it before. He didn’t care about waking me up when it came to sex, and after everything we’d been through, I expected him to want me even more.

I pulled on one of his t-shirts and went down the hallway.

He was sitting on the couch with the TV on, his phone pressed to his ear. “Tell them we’ll consider adding them to the Skull Kings after a few interviews. I’ll be down there tomorrow to see it through.” He hung up without waiting for a response then tossed the phone onto the table. His musculature was tight, like he was still angry even though everything had been resolved. He got his diamond back, and Lucian died in the most violent way possible.

I approached the couch, my bare feet making slight sounds against the hardwood floor.

He knew I was there but didn’t turn to look at me. He was in his black sweatpants, the muscles of his back and arms rippling with his subtle movements.

My arm slid around his shoulders, and I lowered myself into his lap, invading his space the way I wished he would invade mine.